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This week in the Bay Area - January 8 to 12

Things are a little quieter after the festive season, but - as ever in the Bay Area - there are plenty of events to diarise.

Michael Tilson Thomas
Photo: Chris Wahlberg

Always in the forefront when it comes to creative programming, Michael Tilson Thomas leads the San Francisco Symphony this week in the first of two concert programs which make up the Re/current Festival - a celebration of the music of Beethoven, paired with the work of Project San Francisco composer, Mason Bates.

More than 200 years after music lovers were introduced to the works of Beethoven, his influence is still being felt, and his music has lost none of its impact - or any of its scope for re-interpretation. This week’s program features his Romances for Violin and Orchestra and his epic Symphony No 7.

Contemporary composer and master deejay, Mason Bates, is described as having “blurred the lines of classical and electronica”, and he’ll be performing his work entitled The B-Sides: Five Pieces for Orchestra & Electronica. Commissioned by Michael Tilson Thomas (to whom it’s dedicated) and the San Francisco Symphony, the work was completed in early 2009, and was given its world premiere by MTT and the Symphony in May of that year.

The first of two Re/current Festival programs takes place at Davies Symphony Hall from January 8 to 11. For further information and tickets, please visit the San Francisco Symphony website.

SFJAZZ presents a special night of music and conversation with percussionist and composer John Santos on January 8. Entitled The Listening Party it takes the form of a lively discussion with Santos, during which he’ll talk about his life, work, inspirations and the performances he’s curating during Season 2 as a Resident Artistic Director of SFJAZZ. These include the music of Cuban bassist Israel ‘Cachao’ Lopez and percussion great Walfredo de los Reyes.

The rest of the week features the only Bay Area performance in 2014 by harmonica master Mark Hummel as he - and a “killer group” - pay tribute to Mississippi bluesman, Sonny Boy Williamson II. Mark Hummel’s Blues Harmonic Blowout features John Mayall, Rick Estrin, Curtis Salgado and Little Charlie Baty.

More details of these performances - which run from January 9 to 12 - can be found on the SFJAZZ website.

The Santa Rosa Symphony this week presents a program entitled East/West Musical Dialogue, featuring Wu Man, Musical America’s '2013 Instrumentalist of the Year', in the American premiere of Zhao Jiping’s Pipa Concerto. Wu Man is regarded as the world’s premier virtuoso of this Chinese lute-like instrument, which has a history going back 2000 years. Zhao Jiping, Wu Man's colleague in The Silk Road Project, is known as 'the John Adams of China'.

The concert, led by guest conductor, Enrique Arturo Diemecke, also features Mozart’s Symphony No 15 and Beethoven’s Symphony No 6, the Pastorale.

The performances take place on January 11, 12 and 13 at the Weill Hall, Green Music Center, Sonoma State University. More details can be found on the Santa Rosa Symphony website.

The Salon Series of casual drop-in events at the Hotel Rex continues this week, with Society Cabaret shows in the hotel’s Salon Room. A boutique hotel, at 562 Sutter Street, just off San Francisco’s Union Square, the Hotel Rex takes its inspiration for these cultural experiences from the European art and literary salons of the 1920s and 30s, providing entertainment ranging from a book launch to a cabaret, accompanied by good food and wine.

On January 10, Sheelagh Murphy - winner of the 2013 Best Cabaret Performer award - brings her intimate show to the Society Cabaret, and on January 11, we have Pamela Joy’s Strange Bedfellows: The Music and Unlikely Friendship of Cole Porter and Irving Berlin. Songstress Pamela Joy, accompanied by the Mike Greensill Trio, explores the one thing which these two songwriters - from such different backgrounds - had in common: their music, which is as popular today as it’s always been.

Advance reservations are available at societycabaret.com or by calling 415 857-1896.
More information can be found on https://www.facebook.com/HotelRex.

This week’s broadcast of Live from the Met on Classical KDFC features Jeremy Sams’ glittering new production of Johan Strauss’s delightful opera, Die Fledermaus. With a revised libretto by Douglas Carter Beane, the action takes place in Vienna at the beginning of the 20th century, in an opulent and elegant setting. Susanna Phillips and Christopher Maltman lead the cast, which includes Christine Schäfer, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Michael Fabiano and Paulo Szot. The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra is conducted by Adam Fischer.

Die Fledermaus is broadcast live from the Metropolitan Opera, New York, on Classical KDFC, on Saturday January 11 at 10.00 am.

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